Warners Replace Potter With Merlin

merlin210With box office-busting juggernaut Harry Potter about to unveil its final instalment with The Deathly Hallows Part II, Warner Bros is facing a large wizard-shaped gap in its slate. The solution to this multi-million dollar hole in its annual profits? An adaptation of kids’ novel series The Lost Years Of Merlin.

The studio has hired Ed Whitworth (a script reader for Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions) to pen a screenplay on the first novel in TA Barron’s fantasy series, after Paramount let their option on the rights lapse. The five-book series tells the story of the formative years of the beardy magician best known for his work amongst the Camelot elite, from his years as a small boy in Wales learning to use his powers to his place as the all powerful wizard in King Arthur’s court.

While swapping one childhood wizard for another seems like a smart move, genre fans’ thirst for Hogwarts and hormones seemingly sated by a like-for-like substitute, Potter has been something of an anomaly. Since its 2001 debut, there have been those that have tried to stake a claim to its throne – The Dark Is Rising, Eragon to name but a few – yet none have proved as popular with either critics or audiences as Harry, Ron and Hermione.

A new hero, particularly a character that is already well known, will be a tough project, but if Warners can reboot Batman from his day-glo nipple-suited mid-Nineties abomination to Oscar-nommed success…